SUPPORT PUBLIC EDUCATION
I’ve worked as a teacher for twenty years. It’s not just my career – it’s my passion.
Aging Schools & Materials
More than 8 out of 10 Arizona students attend public schools, yet local districts struggle to fund their programs adequately. Buildings, text books, technology, and buses are aging. Some communities support their schools with bonds and overrides, but others do not. This has led to unequal funding across the state.
Fully-Funding Our Schools
Investing in education isn’t just good for children – it’s good for our state’s future. Strong school systems will encourage businesses to relocate to (or remain in) Arizona. Businesses demand a well-educated workforce, and their employees want their children to attend great schools.
I believe education should be fully-funded, P-20 (preschool-university or workforce). There is much work to be done. During the 54th Legislature, we considered many ideas including funding preschool programs, poverty weights, changing the funding for special education, funding gifted education, allowing four-year degrees at community colleges and more.
When we discuss fully-funded schools, we cannot forget about the teachers. We should pay our teachers for their educational training and years of experience. We must consider that a large number of teachers are of retirement age, and the numbers of college students choosing to pursue a career in education is declining. We do not have enough certified teachers who are willing to teach to cover all the classrooms in Arizona. In recent years, we have expanded the Teacher’s Academy in an effort to entice more people into becoming educators.
Another component that is of great importance is the mental health of our community. In the last decade, there have been a large number of young people who have died of suicide in the Southeast Valley. East Valley legislators, including myself, have worked on bills to help this serious issue including: suicide prevention training for students grades 6-12 as well as staff; mental health parity-which would require insurers to cover mental health as well as physical health, and bills to increase the number of school counselors and school social workers on campus.
The closure of school buildings this spring due to COVID-19 really accentuated the challenges schools face. Unequal access to technology, including equipment & broadband, made reaching all students difficult. Some students (younger ones and students with disabilities) struggled to use the on-line platforms. As schools are reopened for the 20-21 school year, educators and legislators will need to be flexible so that students can be successful regardless of whether they are in the school building or not. I am chairing a work group that focuses on the needs of schools as they operate during a pandemic.
IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
Nobody should go bankrupt because they’re sick.
Healthcare is often top-of-mind, but it is even more so as we face COVID-19, and people are losing their jobs and their health insurance. Here in Arizona, we already had a large population of seniors and children living in poverty, many of whom rely on Medicare, AHCCCS, or Kids Care. We should be thoughtful and proactive to ensure that the working poor has access to healthcare. One bill that has been in the works for a while is allowing dental care for pregnant moms on AHCCCS-this would make a huge impact on the mother’s health.
I will fight to protect Arizonans’ access to quality, affordable health care—especially our most vulnerable. I will work to protect the right to basic coverage, like emergency services and maternity care. During the 54th Legislature, I supported a bill that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions. I also supported Association Health Plans as a cost-effective way for small businesses to provide health care coverage for their employees.
We must also encourage preventive care, so that small problems don’t become worse. We must equip people to make smart choices about their own health and well-being.
The cost of prescription drugs-even with health insurance-has become too high for some individuals. Specifically, the cost of a vial of insulin is outrageous. I am hopeful that this is an area we can work on in the upcoming year.
Smart, targeted reforms like these will help make coverage affordable and accessible for individuals and small businesses alike. It’s all about striking a smart balance between promoting personal responsibility, and protecting those who need the most help.
Finally, we should recognize that many of our rural communities and tribal nations are lacking medical providers. This may be reconciled with programs that allow loan forgiveness for new medical professionals who work in remote areas. Allowing telemedicine (after the Executive Order expires) may also be a solution that should be considered.
PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE
Our children deserve to learn in a safe environment and as adults, we owe it to them to provide this and have a constructive, respectful discussion about guns and school safety.
I support the Second Amendment. I do not want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens who use them for hunting, recreation or protecting their families.
I do, however, believe we need to strengthen background checks to keep these weapons from people with a history of committing domestic abuse, violence or with serious mental illness.
I believe a teacher’s most important responsibility is to educate our children. I do not support arming teachers, instead I am in favor of implementing common sense measures to improve school security and protect our communities from gun violence.
To these ends, during 2019, I helped vote out a bill that would have allowed loaded guns in school parking lots, co-sponsored SB1468 “Schools: Suicide Prevention Training” which was signed into law May 8, 2019, and sponsored HB2562 “School Counselors; Grants” which delivered $15M for school resource officers, social workers and counselors in the final 2020 approved budget.
JOBS & ECONOMY
I believe that education and job development go hand-in-hand. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and their employees expect to live in a community with strong schools for their children. We have many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and Career and Technical Education programs (CTE) in our high schools. A great example of one of these programs is the Cyber Security Academy at Basha High. Students graduate with industry recognized certificates.
Another route some may choose is apprenticeship programs offered by the unions around the valley. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the apprenticeship training facilities, and I was very impressed by the quality of the programs. Graduates of these programs have specialized training and are able to earn high wages upon completion.
Arizona residents want jobs where they can earn a competitive wage to keep up with the rising costs of healthcare, childcare, higher education and housing. They should not have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
During my time at the legislature, I have learned more about tax credits. I am in favor of tax credits that have positive impacts on the community. Angel Investments and the Qualified Facilities R & D tax credits have allowed local business in our district to expand. This has brought thousands of high-paying jobs and an incredible amount of capital improvements to our district. This encourages bright, young people to stay in Arizona rather than seeking employment elsewhere.
PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
We need to protect water, air, and land for future generations and for the economic sustainability of our state.
As a desert-dweller, I recognize that water is a very precious resource. The Groundwater Management Act of 1980 was an innovative piece of legislation that required conservation of groundwater in five high-use areas of the state. Last year we passed the Drought Contingency Plan which was an agreement with the other Colorado River Basin states. Our work is not done. We must continue to work on water policy to ensure we have adequate clean water in the future.
We must also focus on clean air. Particle pollution and ozone levels in our cities need to be reduced – Maricopa County currently has an ‘F’ from the American Lung Association for high particulate matter pollution. The reduced pollution many cities experienced following COVID-19 stay-at-home orders shows bold actions could make significant improvements to our air quality.
With more sunshine than any other state in the nation, Arizona has the potential to be the leading state in the nation for clean energy and solar power. Our economy can benefit greatly from high-paying jobs in the solar industry as well as the money saved by residents and businesses from the use of solar power.
As a teacher and a believer in lifelong learning, I know there is so much more I can learn about how we can protect our environment. I therefore welcome chances to learn from experts in their fields as well as listen to those whose lives are affected by our actions.
I’d like to respectfully acknowledge, and thank the Tohono O’odham Nation, upon whose traditional land LD17 resides. I know I can learn much from the traditional stewards of this land.
When re-elected I am looking forward to actively working with colleagues who are introducing climate legislation and funding for environmental programs.
CONTACT REP. PAWLIK
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